How to Eat Local

July 14, 2011

Here’s a fun guest post on eating local food from James Kim, from foodonthetable.com. Enjoy!

 

You hear the benefits of eating local preached on television, in the news, and in your

supermarket. Eating local can minimize air pollution while strengthening the local

economy. So how can you start eating local in your meal planning? Follow these easy

tips to become a “locavore” (and have fun doing it).

Know Your Seasons

Sure, you could probably buy watermelon in December in our super-globalized

economy. But this kind of out-of-season buying tacks on miles to food’s travel time,

thereby maximizing air pollution. No good for the environment! Do what you can to eat

seasonally to limit you food’s carbon footprint. Smart Living provides a search engine

which lists off the seasonal foods for each state.

Need help remembering your seasonal produce? Make rituals. If you bake a peach crisp

every summer, you will associate this fruit with its season. Easy as that!

Farmers’ Markets

 

It’s always fun to visit farmers’ markets. The people watching, the rows of food, the

sense of community — it’s a great way to spend the afternoon. Of course, the best

part about visiting a farmers’ market is meeting the people who have spent their days

nurturing and growing your food. Find a farmers’ market near you by visiting the USDA

website, which contains a farmers’ market search engine.

Take a Field Trip

 

Remember the good ol’ days of field trips? Relive them by taking a field trip to a nearby

farm. Here, you can learn about your local foods straight from the source. Find a local

farm in your area on the Eat Wild website.

There are tons of others ways to put your local diet into action. For example, visit a u-

pick farm. In these farms, you can pick you local food straight off the land and pay for

what you’ve picked when your done. Try the Pick Your Own website to find a u-pick

farm near you.

Eating local doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s a great way to get closer to your community,

eat fresher food, and educate yourself!

James Kim is a writer for foodonthetable.com. Food on the Table is a company

that provides online budget meal planning services. Their goal is to help families

eat better and save money.

What’s sharing?

July 3, 2011

I don’t share, especially when it comes to my food. Then again, why should I when it looks like this?

I was recently contacted by Alina of Enjoy Life Foods (hi and thanks again, Alina!). She very kindly offered to share some of the company’s new giant chocolate chunks with me, and you know me. I’m not one to say no to chocolate (and I won’t share it, either).

These chocolate chippies are free of the most 8 common allergens as well as dairy and soy.

Perfect size for cookies! I love them. These are ideal for baking and snacking. Nothing else….especially not sharing.

My sister gave me a copy of Kris Holechek’s 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes a while back and I finally put it to good use. I’d recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t believe that vegan baked goods are tasty. Despite what you may think, vegans actually don’t bake twigs and leaves into their cakes and cookies. Though sometimes we do sneak tofu in there.

Of course, I can’t (and won’t) share the original recipe here, you’ll have to buy the book for that, but I can promise you you won’t regret buying it. I baked a batch of Kris’s cookies a few weeks ago, and despite putting them in the oven for too long (I just now discovered that we have a timer built into the oven), the little bricks cookies were still good, even if they were crunchy.

I remade these cookies today, and made quite a few changes to the original recipe. I like to think it’s healthier, which means you can eat five at a time and not feel guilty, right?!

Chocolate Chip Cookies that Aren’t for Sharing

Adapted from 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

a shake of sea salt

3/4 cup Earth Balance or margarine, softened

3/4 cup raw sugar (ie Sugar In The Raw)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons of water, stirred and left to gel)

as many chocolate chips as your heart desires (I used a mixture of dark and semi-sweet chocolate)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and put wax paper on your baking sheets.

In one bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients. In another small bowl, combine your water and flaxseed to make your fake egg. Let it sit for five minutes, until it’s creepily gel-like.  In your third bowl, cream together Earth Balance, instant coffee, sugars, and vanilla. Once your flax egg has come together, add it to your sugar/butter mixture as well as some of the flour. Use a stand mixer (or a hand one) to combine all of your wet to dry, in batches.

When you have everything nicely combined, stir in chocolate chips and anything else you might want. Some people like raisins in their cookies, but I don’t use a walker so I don’t add them.

At this point, it’s totally a good idea to set aside half of the dough and just eat it all with a spoon.* Like I said earlier, it’s healthy. Don’t share.

Take a tablespoon and scoop out dough, then use your hands to roll and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Transfer to a cooling rack but eat about another half of the cookies while they’re fresh and warm with a glass of ice cold milk. Don’t share these, either.

If by some miracle you still have enough cookies to take to your boyfriend who live 110 miles away, you won’t have them for very long. 110 miles is such an exhausting drive, but cookies make it better and give you the strength to keep going. You won’t be able to share cookies with said boyfriend because they’ll be gone.

At least they were good while they lasted.

*This step is optional….but it shouldn’t be.

Your Mountain is Waiting

February 17, 2011

The other night, I did something I haven’t done in quite a long time (we’re talking years here!). I went rock climbing. Looking up at the very top of the indoor wall, I thought, there’s no way I’ll be able to climb that! It was probably a good 25 feet high, plus there were people watching.

Insanity.

But I tried anyway.

It was intense, it was tough, and it was scary. Climbing straight up and trying not to look down was one of the most challenging aspects, and even though I had a harness on I was still terrified of losing my balance and slipping. There were times when I thought my fear of falling would get the best of me, but I toughed it out and had an epiphany while I was scaling that wall.

Climbing up the rock wall is like deciding to recover and, more importantly, defeat my eating disorder. You’ve got to tackle it head on and just climb from the bottom of that wall all the way to the top. Trusting and knowing you’ll be caught by your support group if you do happen to lose your grip is an important factor. They’re there with you every step of the way, whether you realize it or not. They’ve got your back. If you do happen to lose your grip, you have support in your belayer. Turn to them and tell them, and they’ve got you – they won’t let you fall. But it’s also about trusting yourself. You’ve got to believe that you’ve got the right footing and you have to take it one step at a time.

There will probably be a few slip ups and maybe even a few fallbacks, and that’s when the choice is up to you: you can give that climb another try and push yourself to the top, or you can go right back down to the bottom. Although scaling a wall of any kind is never easy no matter what the situation, it is always worth the climb. Because once you’re at the top, there is no greater feeling.

As far as I’m concerned, the only way to go is up.

What’s your “wall?”

The title says it all.

Last week, I was contacted by the lovely folks over at Enjoy Life Foods asking if I was interested in sampling and reviewing their new and improved cookies. Um, vegan and gluten free cookies FO FREE? You know this girl ain’t gonna turn that down.

I can’t lie… playing with those packing peanuts was pretty darn fun.

On to the crux of the matter….the goods.

I received 3 boxes of cookies – 1 Snickerdoodle, 1 Lively lemon, and 1 Double Chocolate Brownie.

Before I go on, I have a confession to make: I wasn’t too sure I would like these cookies. You see, I bought Enjoy Life’s cookies before and was disappointed. I found the texture and taste to just be, well…off. You know when you give someone a vegan cookie and they can tell it’s a vegan cookie without you saying it? Yeah – that’s how they used to be. So when I heard that the recipe was new and improved I wondered if that meant they’d be less obviously vegan.

My thought process went like this: how can a cookie that is free of 12 allergens and also vegan and gluten free be delicious? There’s no:

-wheat

-dairy

-peanuts

-tree nuts

-egg

-soy

-shellfish

-fish

-potatoes

-sesame

-sulfites

or

-casein

Plus there’s no trans fats, GMOs, or artificial ingredients.

So…is it any good?

First I sampled the double chocolate brownie cookies. Would  you ever expect any different from me?

Upon ripping open the plastic wrapper I could smell the cocoa powder and I didn’t even bother to get a plate. That’s juts a formality, anyway right? When Enjoy Life says new and improved, they really mean it. My doubts were gone and my world was full of butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns because I had delicious chocolate cookies in my life…finally. These cookies were even Roomie tested and Roomie approved. I do believe her word were along the lines of, “This is vegan?”

Once the sugar coma wore off (what’s a serving size again?!) I decided to sample a snickerdoodle. Hey, it’s a tough job but I have to get my review out there. 😉

Two words: holy cow.

How on earth had I gone my entire life without eating a snickerdoodle before today!? Maybe it’s the cinnamon that scares me away (ever since attempting the cinnamon challenge, I’ve shied away from the stuff). I hesitantly took a small nibble of a snickerdoodle before promptly inhaling the rest. Good grief, Charlie Brown – these are delicious.

Another great thing I noticed about these cookies was the fact that they stayed so soft and moist, even after being opened. I forgot to put them in a ziploc baggie, but when I tried one the day after opening, they were still as soft as ever.

Oh, it’s love.

Finally, I tried the Lively Lemon flavor. I’m not the biggest fan of lemony desserts. Lemon bars and lemonade are too tart for me. My dad is a fan of anything lemon, so clearly, I didn’t get that trait from him.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say I loved these cookies, too. There were flecks of lemon throughout, but there was a nice balance of sweet and tart; the lemony flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. It was more like a hint of lemon. Or, as the name suggests, a lively lemon flavor.

It’s safe to say that I’m addicted to the snickerdoodles and once I’m all out, I’ll get my butt to the nearest Earth Fare and buy ten a few boxes. My only dislike was the size of these cookies. They’re kind of small, maybe three or four inches in diameter.

The verdict? Two thumbs up.

Thanks again to Enjoy Life Foods – check them out! They have a full line of allergy and gluten free products, everything from [delicious] chocolate chips to cookies to granolas and bagels.

Note: I was not compensated or paid in any way to write this review – I simply received the cookies in the mail and gave my honest opinion!

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

Go buy these. Now.

 

Chilli Days

January 13, 2011

49 out of 50 states are covered in snow right now.

Mine is no exception.

Yesterday afternoon morning, Roomie and I woke up to a blanket of snow and ice outside of our window and were thrilled to find out that classes were cancelled. Glorious. Sledding > studying.

Of course, being the cheap college student I am, I don’t have a sled. Or the proper footwear. Lucky for me, my RA is a genius and informed me to wear rain boots. She also provided me with a sled.

Fabulous.

Yes, my ghetto ass sled was a box. No shame.

 

Come on, you didn’t think I managed to stay on, did you!?

My RA isn’t the only genius around here though. My brilliant neighbors discovered the most innovative sledding solution of this still very young century. Can you tell what it is?

No? Well, it’s a cookie sheet! I’ll tell you what, if you have a spare anywhere and you’ve still got snow on the ground, you need to get your toosh on that cookie sheet and find a hill to speed down. I am doubly sure that I would singlehandedly own any and all of my competition in Bobsledding. London 2012, anyone?

After two hours of intense sledding, we were pretty frozen. My hands were numb, my sweater was filled with ice, and I had muddy smears on my peacoat. I may or may not have looked like I peed my pants. I knew what was in order: a warm, comforting, warm, delicious, warm, and filling lunch. That was warm. Enter one pot chilli!

Chilli To Warm Your Bones

This delicious chilli is easy to prepare and perfect for heating yourself up after a romp in the snow. The spices are completely versatile, so you can adjust the heat to your taste and use whatever ones you want or have on hand. Serves 4-5.

You’ll need:

2 cans of beans, your choice. I used kidney beans.

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 cups TVP, hydrated*

1 can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, with the liquid

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon chilli powder

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

 

*TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is pretty easy to rehydrate. Click here for the 411.

To start your chilli, heat up a large pot (large enough to fit everything) with a drizzle of good olive oil. I feel like Ina Garten when I say that.

From foodnetworkhumor.com

Once your EVOO is heated (Oh God, now I feel like Rachael Ray!), toss in your onion and, if you’re feeling saucy, go ahead and toss in a tablespoon of minced garlic. Once the onion is translucent, add your TVP and bell pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Heck, you could even roast the pepper beforehand for even more deliciousness. Crazy talk.

Now you’re at the point where you need the TVP to absorb all of your spices, so go ahead and add them in before you add in your canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. If you want to be even more of a risk taker, you could pour in a bottle of Blue Moon. Hey, I won’t tell, especially if you live in a dry dorm. 😉

Once everything is in your pot, bring it to a boil. Then let it all simmer and hang out for as little or as long as you like. The flavors will intensify and meld and become the most comforting chilli you ever imagined. It’ll warm you up enough to go play in the snow some more.

Just be sure to wear the right shoes.

How did you spend your snow day(s)?

A love letter for 2011

December 31, 2010

Body, I’ve let you down, and I’m sorry.

Legs, thank you for carrying me and remaining strong while I continued to abuse you with running, time on the elliptical, and biking. Thank you for staying strong and not letting me fall.

My eyes, thank you for letting me see the world around me every day, even when I couldn’t see the damage I was doing to myself, even when it was right in front of me.

To my heart, thank you for never giving up, even when I almost did. Even when you were at your slowest, you never gave up and you never stopped.  You never stopped letting the life flow through me, even when I didn’t feel it.

Body, I won’t hurt you anymore.

I won’t push you so far again. I’m sorry for what I put you through and I’m sorry for not knowing my limits. You deserve only the best treatment and respect, and I am glad I realize this now. Better late than never, right? No more two-a-days at the gym, no more skipping meals. Never again will I feel guilty for putting whole foods into you and I will never again try to “undo” my actions. You are so much more than the vessel I walk around in, the skin that I inhabit.

That’s why you deserve better.

This year, I’m not going to make any resolutions to “tone up” or lose X amount of pounds. I’m not going to exercise a certain amount of minutes every week, and I’m certainly not going to feel guilty if I choose to spend quality time with my friends over time at the gym. No more starving, no more feeling out of control. It’s time to stop this…because I’m beautiful just the way I am.

This is my promise to you, Body. I promise to treat you with the care you deserve. I promise to give you days to rest, days to recover, and days to simply be. I promise to enjoy every day and live for me and not for my exercise regimen. No more comparing and wishing; you’re better than that. I promise to live more days with a smile on my face and a feeling of pride in the strong, independent, beautiful person that I have become. I will live more days where I can smile, laugh, and be who I was truly meant to be. Days like these:

(That’s my aunt, BTW. Crazy runs in the family.)

My promise to stay strong.

What I can promise you, Body, is that 2011 is going to be filled with amazing times, crazy memories, and great fun.

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?


Blueberries, blueberries…

December 14, 2010

Now that is the bestest! It’s yumma!

Sweet & Sour and Delicious

December 8, 2010

It’s finals time. You know what that means. The next few weeks usually involve many late night cram sessions, 23 quiet-hours, and lots and lots of stress. The truly devout college kids lock themselves away in the study rooms of the library tower, a cup of coffee in one hand and a ridiculously thick textbook and highlighter in the other. But what happens at 1:30 AM when you’ve finished studying? You’re hungry and there are no options on campus. But don’t you dare pick up that phone and order crappy takeout.

MSG, anyone?

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my undergraduate career (so far) without having to pull a single all-nighter and I haven’t succumbed to a Chinese takeaway dinner. I’ve found that planning ahead really helps, whether it’s getting by from week to week during the regular semester with two classes, jobs, clubs, etc or whether it’s during crunch time at the end of a semester.

One thing I like to buy that’s super cheap? Brown rice!

I bought this bag for $1.39 and there’s quite a few servings in there. What more could a cheapass broke college student want? Brown rice is one of those things I’ll make a big batch of on Sunday night and eat with steamed veggies and such during the week.

Obviously it’s not quite instant rice (brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook), but this recipe here really is all about planning ahead. In addition to letting the rice simmer for a good hunk of time, you’re also going to need to press some tofu. More on that in a minute.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves 3-4 hungry, studious people

This ultra simple recipe is something you can make any night of the week. It keeps in the fridge wonderfully, and the leftovers only get better because the flavors have time to hang out. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to buy quality sweet and sour sauce. It costs a little bit extra, but it tastes amazing.

What you’ll need:

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

1 cup of brown rice, uncooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced peppers

1-2 cups broccoli

a jar of good sweet and sour sauce

~1/3 cup of flour (optional)

The first step to this recipe is to make sure you’re done studying for the day. Why? Because you need to press your tofu.

What’s under there, hmm?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have put this on my printer.

That’s how I press my tofu because I’m too cheap to buy an actually Tofu Xpress or whatever they’re calling it these days. Who knew there was an actual use for textbooks?! 😉 Just kidding! I read them!

Let your tofu chill underneath your pile’o textbooks for as little as 15 minutes. I let mine sit for a few hours, only because I’d never pressed tofu before and wondered how firm that sucker really could be. Oh boy. Let me show you…

That hunk that’s missing was a “test slice” to make sure it was firm enough. 😉

How did I wait this long to press tofu? The texture was delicious. It made me fall in love with tofu all over again. I’ll eat the stuff straight up, and in its pressed form, it’s even better.

Once you emerge from your pressed-tofu-loving coma, let it marinade in about 3 tablespoons of your sweet and sour sauce for as long as you have time.

Heat up a pan and oil. If you have it, use sesame oil. If not, olive is fine.

Saute up your veggies and then add in your tofu and as much or as little sauce as you’d like.

Saucy.

Here’s where that flour comes in to play. I didn’t cook my tofu before my veggies because I didn’t want it extra crispy. You can if you want to – instead, I scattered in handfuls of flour until the sauce got thick and the raw flour taste had cooked out. I know it sounds odd, but it really worked.

Now you’re ready to devour!

And maybe study some more?

When you were in college, did you make late night runs to a local restaurant or fast food joint a lot?


Goals

November 26, 2010

I’m not one for New Years Resolutions. I never keep them, and I can’t help feeling like I’m setting lofty goals and impossible standards for myself and never matching up. It’s not that I’m not good at doing what I put my head to, because I went vegetarian and vegan overnight, and I happen to think I’m a pretty good “go getter.” But in all honesty, I think New Years Resolutions are just a way for gyms to up their membership quotas and for Lean Cuisine to make a crap ton of profit.

That’s why I’m making a promise to myself.

I don’t want to pursue some unattainable goal, and my promise doesn’t involve being X size or losing Y amount of weight. First off, I’m going to stop wearing myself so thin. I’ve got 2 jobs, classes, I’m a member of Eta Sigma Gamma (the national health education honorary), I have an active role in my dorm as the food/events committee head, I’m the vice president of my school’s vegetarian society, and on top of all that, I still try to work out 6 days a week and have a social life. Because of all of this, I’ve learned so much about myself in the past few months. I’m stronger than I think I am, and I shouldn’t be afraid to get out there and try new things. I believe that the learning never ends, which is why I’m making leaps and bounds with my bucket list…

That’s right I’m in the market for a half marathon. There will be no time goals or pressure. I’m not trying to finish under anything other than my best and the only thing I want to walk away with is pride. I’m going to begin training once I’ve picked my race, which will hopefully be in the spring of 2011. Good timing, because in July and August I’ll be packing my bags…

My university offers a service learning course in Zambia. There’s a crazy interview process, not to mention this trip ain’t cheap. But if all works out, I’ll be doing clinic work, treating TB and HIV/AIDS patients, teaching adult literacy classes, and throwing myself headfirst into an entirely different culture. I’m going to immerse myself into the people, the lifestyle, the culture, and drink it all in.

I’m going to experience life again.

So what is this promise to myself? It’s simple. I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to live without regrets, explore, and I want to let go of things that are out of my control. Life goes on. I don’t have to exercise or obsess over something silly like food, and I certainly shouldn’t feel guilty if I take a rest day. My life doesn’t depend on how much I eat or how my pants fit. I shouldn’t let these things determine how I live each day. I promise to live beyond the scale and nutrition facts. There’s a world beyond my own, and it doesn’t rely on what I eat.

So I’m going to let it go and know that I can handle whatever comes my way.

And I’ll let my Lean Cuisine stock pay for my flight to Zambia. 😉

Defining Delicious

November 8, 2010

de·li·cious

[dih-lish-uhs]
–adjective
1. highly pleasing to the senses, esp. to taste or smell: adelicious dinner; a delicious aroma.
2. very pleasing; delightful: a delicious sense of humor.
Used in a sentence: “Holy crap, that was a delicious pancake.”
Example of deliciousness: Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter!
There is a LOT of passion in this picture.
I’ll do anything to save money. I’ll avoid using the air conditioning in my car to save money on gas, I’ll bum laundry soap off Roomie until I cave and buy my own, and I’ll only buy organic when I absolutely have to. But I have no problem shelling out $10.99 for a jar of this magic:

The reason I have two jobs.

Now that boyfriend’s outta the picture (his loss anyway), Justin can have my heart. Actually, he stole it long ago. Back when I experienced Whole Foods for the first time I spotted a squeezie pack of this “Nutella knockoff” and nabbed it. I saved the little pouch of chocolate-y goodness until it was perfect weather: a rainy night in need of some chocolate. It was love at first bite.

I thought living as a vegan meant I’d never be able to drizzle Nutella on my pancakes or enjoy it straight up. Of course, I also thought it’d mean I would have to give up Bailey’s, but I didn’t…. Anyway, back to the point, Justin is a genius. A true hero. And if it means I have to go without gas for a week, then so be it. 😉

Is there a certain food that you’ll “splurge” on when you buy groceries?